Arrived in Gunwharf Quays Marina and met First Mate Amy and Watch Leader Charlie. Once the whole group arrived we split up into our watches (Port & Starboard) and learnt about general housekeeping on the vessel we also received a general deck briefing where we learnt the common terms of the boat and what the majority of the lines and rope work do.
Shortly after we departed Portsmouth and set sail for Cowes, we learnt to rig the Stay Sail and Yankee, as well as learning how the Halyards work and what their purpose is. Enroute the crew put in some tacks and learnt how to use the winches and how to leave them in a safe place. During this we learnt the key commands (Everybody Ready, Standby to Tack, Helm to Lee, Lee Ho – Let Go) the skipper uses to direct their crew to safely manoeuvre the vessel. We berthed in Cowes Yacht Haven for the evening, bound for Poole on Day 2.
We left Cowes and made passage down the Western Solent, passing Gurnard we hoisted the main sail. With wind and tide against us we tacked our way down to Hurst Castle and made way towards The Needles. We took some time to discuss the Emergency Procedures including Man Overboard (MOB) and what flares the boat carries and how/why you would fire them. Passing Hurst Castle we put the first reef in the main sail as there was too much power in the main sail. Throughout our route out of the Western Solent, in The Needles Channel the crew learnt the various different aspects of the boat and how the keel works as a counterbalance to stabilise the vessel. All of the crew had the opportunity to helm the vessel in some weather and gained an understanding of how the vessel handles and heels over. On our approach to Poole Harbour we de-rigged the boat and packed the sails away so that the skipper could motor into Poole and make way up the main channel bound for Poole Quay Boat Haven. Amy and Charlie cooked Bangers and Mash while the crew had a tour of Poole Lifeboat Station.
Having slept after Bangers and Mash cooked by Amy and Charlie in Poole Quay Boat Haven the night before we woke to bacon baps and looking forward to a tour of the RNLI Campus which was a 10 minute walk from the marina.
We arrived at the RNLI College at 0930 HRS where we were greeted by Luke, one of the lifeboat trainers. Luke showed and demoed the RNLI Simulator and showed us the Sea Survival Pool and underwater viewing gallery. We then took the short walk to the All Weather Lifeboat Centre where the Shannon lifeboats are built and current all-weather boats and repaired and refitted. After a short souvenir visit to the college lifeboat shop we walked back to the marina to get the boat ready to set sail to Weymouth.
Departing Poole at 1100 HRS we proceeded under engine power down the main channel out of Poole Harbour which allowed Amy to make some necessary repairs to the main halyard using whipping twine.
Proceeding past Studland Bay at 1330, the crew hoisted the Main Sail after a few attempts where the main halyard got stuck due to the wind, in front of the two top spreaders which are attached to the mast. The crew also hoisted the Yankee sail to stabilise the boat and track away from the Lulworth firing ranges marine exclusion zone as it was in use as we tracked past it.
Tacking our way towards Weymouth we received information over the VHF radio from ‘Lulworth Range Safety’ that firing was complete for the day and that the marine exclusion zone was no longer active. This meant we were able to tack and make a direct track North West towards Weymouth Harbour entrance. During our voyage from Poole to Weymouth we practiced our knots and Skipper Imo gave us a lesson on the different Points of Sail and explained each of them. On our passage to Weymouth Harbour we had a Close Haul point of sail which meant we needed to tack a few times to make positive headway towards Weymouth as the wind was on the bow.
Once we arrived in the sheltered waters of outer Weymouth Harbour, we were in a good position to de-rig the Main sail and Yankee when all of a sudden we were joined by two dolphins that were putting on a show for us in the waves that lied ahead of us. This was the first time that some of the crew had seen a dolphin so it was a nice surprise and special moment for them.
With Amy on the helm for the final approach into Weymouth Harbour, the fenders and mooring lines were made ready for the boat to be docked port side to, on Alpha 2 and Alpha 3 pontoon just inside Weymouth Harbour entrance. Amy docked the boat to textbook standards and we all completed our jobs to make sure the lines were made fast and fenders secure in the correct place to protect the boat from any passing wash from other vessels using Weymouth Harbour.
We all voted earlier in the day to move the crew dinner out to tonight and opted for a longer distance sail on Thursday which would mean we have the chance to get some brief night sailing in as we approach Portsmouth Harbour late on Thursday evening.
We had dinner out in The Stable on Weymouth Quayside where we shared stories about our own lifeboat station experiences and funny moments that had been captured on video during the day. Lots of laughter was shared.
Day – 4, the long day with a night sail around the back of the Isle of Wight.
Before departing Weymouth Harbour, Skipper Imo taught us the basics of passage planning and understanding tides. We learnt there are multiple sources of weather, tidal and port information on the internet, various weather apps and an Almanac. This information is vital when planning a passage for every voyage but even more so when sailing into an unknown or not previously visited port.
We worked together as a team to plot our intended passage and course from Weymouth Harbour to Portsmouth, tracking behind the Isle of Wight. We noted seven waypoints and measured the distance using a set of dividers and the required bearing using a Portland Plotter, ensuring along the way we avoided all identified hazards on the chart.
Given the North Westerly wind direction that was forecast we were in for a smooth sail on a beam reach. Motoring out of Weymouth Harbour we sought shelter from the lee of the land to hoist the Main Sail, Stay Sail and Yankee.
We jibed twice to head towards our second waypoint that kept us clear South of the Lulworth Firing Ranges marine exclusion zone. Once clear of the exclusion zone, Amy set a course due East (095°) heading for St Catherine’s Point, South of the Isle of Wight. Sailing around St Catherine’s Point and Ventnor we crossed Sandown Bay, heading around the West Princessa and Bembridge Ledge Cardinal heading up the Eastern Solent channel towards the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour.
When we reached Horse Sands Fort we dropped the Yankee and Stay Sail and de-rigged the main sail. Once the sails were secured with sail ties we made our way through the channel proceeding to the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour, inbound for Gunwharf Quays Marina.
During the voyage we covered ColRegs and parts of IRPCS (International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea) and Buoyage/Markers.